• Group demands more tenants' rights in Federal Way

    By: Deedee Sun

    Updated:

    FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Some tenants in Federal Way said they're being mistreated. Their complaints include mold, broken appliances and a landlord who they said won't fix the problems.

    Now, a group called Washington CAN is pushing for a city ordinance that would hold landlords accountable. The group protested at an apartment complex at Federal Way on Wednesday. 

    “Fight, fight, fight! Housing is a right!” the group chanted at the Kitts Corner apartments.  

    The complex opened in 2016, but at least two of its now-former residents say they had trouble with mold while living there. 

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    Maria Garces sent KIRO7 photos of her windowsills and a bedroom wall that appear to be covered in mold. 

    “In my windows, I have lots of mold,” Garces said. “I am worried about this - about the mold and my girls,” she said, referring to her daughters.

    She said after about six months of inaction by property managers and a rent hike, she decided to move out.

    The property managers, HNN Associates, sent KIRO7’s Deedee Sun an email, showing more than a dozen repairs made at Garces' unit. 

    The company’s president, Philip Nored, said, “We have no record of any reported issue with mold.” 

    But the group that organized the protest, Washington CAN, said Garces’ case is one of many cases that shows a need for city ordinances to hold landlords accountable with a rental inspection program.

    “Outside of Seattle, there's really no effective way to make complaints about conditions in an apartment or any other problems you have with the landlord,” said Xochitl Maykovich, the political director for the group. “The power imbalance is real." 

    Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell’s office declined to speak on camera, but a spokesman said over the phone that creating a rental inspection ordinance is not something the city is looking into at the moment.  

    “The mayor knows there has been incidents,” said Tyler Hemstreet, with the mayor’s office. “We see there is a need here, but you also have to look at this from a financial perspective, and the city has some financial challenges ahead of it."

    Hemstreet said the city doesn’t have the manpower or resources to tackle the problem right now.

    Washington CAN members said the program would be funded by landlord registration fees like it is in Seattle. Maykovich called the city’s answer a “cop-out” and said the social-rights group would keep pushing to get change.
     

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